December 21, 2016
“This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 (VOICE)
I’d side-stepped a stack of stuffed animals and trooped over a jumble of Barbie dolls as I followed the sound of her muffled sobs.
Passing the bunkbed, I’d stubbed my toe on her wooden dollhouse before reaching the dresser in the corner with the missing pink knob where I’d found her hiding in the slender gap between the wardrobe and the wall.
We’d had a bad day. A tantrum-throwing, word-slinging, frustrating kind of day. We’d traded cuddles for conflicts, silly songs for sighs, peace for power-plays. And, to be honest, the selfish side of me just wanted to leave my disgruntled daughter sulking in the corner while I lingered on the couch with a cup of coffee and a covering of quiet.
But four years of parenting this fiery child had taught me that humility goes further than harshness, and grace always has a place in our worst moments. So I dropped to all fours and crawled into the gap, right next to my glowering girl.
“May I join you?” I’d whispered.
She’d cast me a solemn nod and reached for my hand, slowly threading her delicate fingers through mine. Then she’d leaned her head on my shoulder and exhaled a jagged sigh. And, together, we’d sat squished in weary silence behind that bedraggled bureau.
That was years ago. My littlest girl doesn’t hang out behind her dresser anymore. She’s more likely to be found hanging from the monkey bars on her elementary school playground. But not long ago she brought home a picture that reminded me of our corner-huddling days.
At the top of the page was a simple writing prompt typed in boxy letters: “I know my Mommy loves me because …”
And just below the words was a crayoned picture of two small stick figures sitting behind a tall white box decorated with pretty pink knobs and my daughter’s response scripted in messy second-grade scrawl.
“I know my Mommy loves me because … she makes herself small when I really need her.”
“See, Mommy?” My little artist exclaimed as she pointed to the picture she’d drawn directly below those fortuitous words. “That’s you and me in my secret hiding place ... Remember how you used to come find me when I was crying?”
I nodded and felt my eyes burn with unsolicited tears. I oohed and aahed over that precious masterpiece, then I headed to the kitchen to hang the simple sketch with a magnet on the fridge, because this mama desperately needs to remember what her daughter already knows:
True love bends low to say, You matter.
True love kneels humbly to say, I care.
True love stoops freely to say, I’m here.
True love is willing to become small to offer the BIGGEST gift of all — the power of presence.
Maybe that’s why I found myself thinking about crowded corners and crayoned pictures as I unpacked our simple nativity scene and positioned the baby Jesus figure in the delicate folds of that painted porcelain manger.
At the heart of this season filled with grand fanfare and pomp, is a humble Savior who made Himself small for us when we needed Him most.
It’s crazy when you think about it — how the biggest love of all shrunk small on that first Christmas long ago. The King of Heaven stooped to earth so we might know the gift of His presence, the wonder of His with-ness, the comfort of His company.
And according to a 7-year-old who once hid behind a bedraggled bureau and the timeless words of our key verse today, 1 John 4:10, that’s how we know we are loved, truly and lavishly loved. “This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us …”
Dear Lord, Thank You for Your gift of true love. Teach me how to unwrap the joy of Your presence at Christmastime and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (NLT)
John 3:16a “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son …” (NLT)
Let Liz Curtis Higgs’ The Women of Christmas reignite your wonder this holiday season.
Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog for more encouragement and for a special Christmas giveaway today.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Be honest with Jesus about your greatest need this holiday season.
Take time to share with a friend one way you’ve experienced God this Christmas.
© 2016 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.